Olacabs.com, an online car rentals and cab services venture from ANI Technologies, has released a mobile app which allows users to book a taxi on their mobile phones in real-time.

The company claims that it is the first online car rental service in India and one of the first in Asia to launch a mobile app with realtime booking and monitoring functionality. The app is currently available on Android with iPhone version arriving next week, followed by a BlackBerry version, which is expected to arrive in a month.

Features: Through this application, users can book the nearest Olacab, receive instant booking confirmation with requisite details like name of the cab, vehicle number and expected time of the cab’s arrival, and allows users to track cab’s incoming progress on their mobile phones. What’s interesting though is that registered users can maintain a credit balance with Olacabs to use this service as and when needed, without making any physical payment to the cab driver. Although we are not sure how it works since we weren’t able to find any way to store money through the company’s website or the mobile app.

Olacabs added that each cab is fitted with an Android phone which acts as an in-car navigation device & fare meter and provides constant traffic alerts, thereby enabling drivers to manage time effectively. Olacabs currently operates in Mumbai and will be extending their operations in Delhi and Bangalore this month. The company said that it intends to extend the service to 10 cities across India by the end of the year. According to the latest figures, the company had claimed to operate over 700 cabs in Mumbai.

Our Take: We tried the app on an HTC Desire Z and and found that it works as promised. After installing, users can either enter their account credentials to log in or sign up for a new account. Following this, the app looked at our location and offered the nearest Olacab present along with the details like distance and the duration.

What interesting and significant though is that, we were able to book a cab with just a single click, following which Olacabs sent SMS and Email alerts with details like name of the cab driver along with his phone number, pickup date and time, cab details like model and number of the car and the user’s address which is automatically shared by the mobile app.

It also looks like the service is already operational in Bangalore since we received a call from the designated cab driver within 5 minutes of booking the cab and were charged Rs 100 for the booking, which is Olacab’s minimum fare. Olacabs also charges Rs 18/km with a waiting charge of Rs 1/min.

Other Players: Other players in the car rental and cab booking space include Savaari Car Rental Pvt Ltd which offers an online rental service for chauffeur-driven cars, and had raised Rs 5 Crore in Series A funding from Inventus Capital Partners, YourCabs.com which offers online aggregation of local cab rental services in Bangalore and had raised angel funding from Sprism Investment Pvt Ltd, Taxiguide which had raised Rs 25 lakh in angel funding from Anand R P and Getmecab.com, which offers cab rentals in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore, and has tie-ups with around 25 car rental operators such as APEX, Global Travels, RBTS, KS Car Hire and RBS Tours and Travels. Last month, car rental company, Carzonrent India Pvt Ltd, which operates Radio Taxi services under the name Easy Cabs had also acquired the online car rental service aggregator, QCABS although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

While none of the local players seems to be offering a real-time cab booking functionality at present, A San Francisco based company, Uber offers a similar functionality across several cities in United States of America (USA).